This installment of the Michigan Football position preview series zeroes in on special teams.
What we know
Will Hagerup is the reigning Big Ten punter of the year, but he will not play in 2013. Hagerup is sitting out this year after disciplinary issues. He is working out with the team and will play his final season of eligibility in 2014. That means Matt Wile will handle the punting duties this year.
Brendan Gibbons has developed into a very reliable kicker for the Wolverines. Last season, he connected on 16 of 18 field goal attempts and on all 45 of his extra point attempts. Gibbons was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection.
Matt Wile is a talented kicker/punter with a big leg. He has already boomed a 52 yard field goal as well as a 58 yard punt and a 56 yard punt. Of his 29 career punts, 13 have resulted in the opponent being pinned inside the 20 yard line.
The position of long snapper is in good hands with 5th year senior Jareth Glanda, who has served as the primary long snapper the past two seasons. Additionally, Michigan has the nation’s top incoming freshman long snapper in Scott Sypniewski.
Once again, Drew Dileo will handle the holding duties on field goal attempts and he is as steady as they come.
Areas of concern
Losing a punter the caliber of Hagerup hurts. However, as outlined above, Matt Wile is more than capable of handling the punting duties. Michigan hasn’t had an explosive punt returner since Steve Breaston roamed the field at the Big House. The last few years, the mantra has been to find a guy who won’t fumble the ball, but that doesn’t always mean that player will be a home run threat.
Potential breakout player
As a true freshman last season, Dennis Norfleet piled up 827 kick off return yards, which is the second best single season total in school history. He didn’t return one for a touchdown last year, but I think there’s a good chance he does that in 2013.
Matt Wile has performed well as the kickoff specialist and has filled in at punter quite a bit over the past two years. As the primary punter, he will be in a featured role this season and I believe that he will thrive. He is also a weapon on long field goal attempts and Brady Hoke won’t hesitate to trot him out there from 50+ yards at any time.
K: Brendan Gibbons (RS Sr, 6-1, 240)
P: Matt Wile (Jr, 6-2, 216)
KR: Dennis Norfleet (So, 5-7, 169)
PR: Jeremy Gallon (RS Sr, 5-8, 184)
Long snapper: Jareth Glanda (RS Sr, 6-3, 253)
Holder: Drew Dileo (Sr, 5-10, 180)
Incoming freshmen: JJ McGrath (kicker), Scott Sypniewski (long snapper).
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